The UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, on Saturday angrily refused an invitation from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to attend his lecture to the world organization on Jewish history. The PM’s offer came in response to a UNESCO resolution that ignored completely the Jewish history of key spots in the Old City of Jerusalem, most notably the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. According to UNESCO, both sites have always been Arab, and only Arab.
“I was shocked to hear that UNESCO adopted a decision denying any Jewish connection to the Temple Mount, our holiest site,” Netanyahu said in a statement, adding, “It is hard to believe that anyone, let alone an organization tasked with preserving history, could deny this link, which spans thousands of years.”
As a measure of correcting “this historical ignorance,” the prime minister, whose late father was a prominent professor of history, offered to host a special lecture on Jewish history for all UN personnel in Israel.
Mladenov appeared deeply offended by the PM’s suggestion that his staff were uneducated. “If someone wants to issue invitations they should be sent to Paris and addressed to the ambassadors of the member-states of UNESCO there,” he said in a statement. “UN staff in Jerusalem know the history of the region, its people and religions all too well.”
It should be noted that after Israeli officials had hit the ceiling in reaction to the insulting UNESCO resolution, the organization’s chief Irina Bokova issued a statement acknowledging that “Jerusalem is a Holy Land of the three monotheistic religions, a place of dialogue for all Jewish, Christian and Muslim people.”
Perhaps Netanyahu could ask Bokova to give that free lecture.